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Kelly Rowland Streams “Feet To The Fire”

A day after releasing her highly anticipated new album, former Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland has released a bonus track for fans around the world to enjoy.

Assisted with some added vocals courtesy of Pharrell Williams, “Feet To The Fire” is the kind of upbeat pop track that only Rowland can deliver. It’s as catchy as anything on radio, but production wise exists in a whole different realm, and very few people work as well with the kind of instrumentation presented on this track as Rowland. It may not be a hit, but it’s definitely bound to be one of your favorite tracks this summer. You can stream “Feet To The Fire” below.

Rowland’s new album, Talk a Good Game, is available now wherever music is sold. Continue reading ‘Kelly Rowland Streams “Feet To The Fire”’

Kelly Rowland & Madcon Debut “One Life” Video

After years taking a public backseat to the popularity of fellow Destiny’s Child member Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland has emerged in 2013 as the new diva to beat. Her singles and guest appearances have been consistent and varies, offering a wide platter of pop musings, and today’s release is no different.

“One Life” is the kind of song you hope to hear when you’re nearing rock bottom. You have a terrible job, your significant other is distant or non-existent, and you feel like no one cares – then this song happens and the clouds part to reveal a rainbow covered in sugar, spice, and everything nice. Norwegian hip hop duo Madcon could not have asked for a better way to debut in the US, and Rowland could not have picked a better single to continue her rise to total pop domination. The video keeps things simple, offering a series of performance shots, but something tells me you’ll be too busy dancing in your chair to care all that much. You can view the video below. Continue reading ‘Kelly Rowland & Madcon Debut “One Life” Video’

Kelly Rowland Returns (With A Little Help From Lil Wayne)

Former Destiny Child’s member Kelly Rowland made a run for a solo career following her pop group’s hiatus, but in recent years she has been relatively quiet. That all changes this morning with the release of her official video for “Ice,” a new single that pairs that vocalist with YMCMB CEO Lil Wayne. The track is smooth and should go a long way towards putting Rowland back on the charts. You can view the video below:

If you enjoy Kelly Rowland, you should check out OS artist Nuela Charles!

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Chart Catfight!: Look Who’s Hot on Carly Rae Jepsen’s Tail in the Battle of the Pop Divas!

Carly Rae Jepsen is in luck. It looks like she won’t have to ensure the continuation of her celebrity run after “Call Me Maybe” falls from its current summit by relying on the hoopla generated by her own Nipplegate—nude photos that ended up being someone else’s.

Thanks to a call from Adam Young, the one-man band behind Owl City, Jepsen is about to relight the fire under her rising star the old-fashioned way: with a new hit. “Good Time,” her duet with Owl City, just debuted at No. 18 on Billboard’s Hot 100, which means that her breakout No. 1 single won’t forever be alone on her hit list.

It’s pop symbiosis at its most effective: He saves her from that pop purgatory known as one-hit wonderdom, where he had been languishing since 2009, when the Owl City single “Fireflies” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, and she helps get him out of it. Sure Katy Perry could have accomplished the same thing in the middle of a dead sleep, but that hardly would have been a meeting of near-equals.

Continue reading ‘Chart Catfight!: Look Who’s Hot on Carly Rae Jepsen’s Tail in the Battle of the Pop Divas!’

Kid Vicious

Vicious Corleone

Before he became Vicious Corleone, Terance Williams was just a kid with a thing for Atlanta rap, who happened to have a dad with a thing for Queen, The Eagles and Journey. You can hear the convergence of those two schools in the rapper’s self-described “Southern rebel music.” Vicious mixes ‘90s hip hop with up-tempo, bass-heavy hooks and rock riffs—an intentional departure from both the dance hits and trap music that rule the Atlanta rap scene. On “Shots Fired (Reload)” snippets of sirens and 8-bit audio come in lashes, whipping up the audience. “M.P.B.” (that’s “Music, Party, Bullshit”) combines scraps of different beats, over which Vicious delivers his manifesto: “We don’t want to be doctors or lawyers / We ain’t Huxtables.” But don’t think that the rapper doesn’t have ambition. In “100 Miles and Running” he sets his sights high, saying, “I’d settle for Kelly Rowland / Ms. Knowles is taken.” Atta boy.

Sound and Vision: The Fall of R&B: How Pop Is Selling Its Soul for a Dance Beat

Remember the days when R&B and hip hop was the sound of pop? From the ‘90s to the mid ‘00s, music’s most dependable hitmakersMariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men, R. Kelly, Usher, Brandy, Monica, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, among themspecialized in “crossover” soul, climbing both the R&B charts and the Hot 100 in tandem.

But lately, something strange has been happening on Billboard’s R&B /Hip-Hop Songs chart: A hit is no longer necessarily a hit. Just because a song is big in the R&B sphere doesn’t mean it’s big anywhere else. For the week ending April 7, 2012, only one song in the R&B/Hip-Hop Top 10Tyga’s “Rack City”had managed a comparable placing on the Hot 100.

The song at No. 1, Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” which had been there for multiple weeks, was way down at No. 54 on the Hot 100. (It briefly entered the Top 40 last September, debuting and peaking at No. 20 after Beyoncé performed it at the MTV Video Music Awards.) Meanwhile, there wasn’t a single R&B diva in the Top 40 aside from Janelle Monae, who got there by guest-singing on rock band fun.’s No. 1 hit “We Are Young.”

What happened to pop’s soul? There’s a disconnect between the pop and R&B charts that hasn’t been so pronounced since the days when Michael Jackson’s label, CBS Records, threatened to pull all of its artists from MTV if the then-fledgling network didn’t play Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video.

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: The Fall of R&B: How Pop Is Selling Its Soul for a Dance Beat’

Is Adele “Black” Enough for the NAACP Image Awards?

According to the Web site for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), its mission is a simple yet noble one: “to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.’”

Elsewhere on the Web site, the NAACP offers a detailed description of its annual Image Awards: “the nation’s premier multi-cultural awards show celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture and writing and directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.”

Got that? Okay.

If those definitions hold, what, then, is a singer like Adele doing in a place like this, as a nominee at the 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards?

She recently received two NAACP Image Award nominations—Oustanding Song and Video for her massive No. 1 hit “Someone Like You”—and, presumably, she will be on hand to win or lose when the prizes are handed out on February 17, live on NBC. Naturally, controversy—and publicity—ensued because unlike fellow multiple-nominee Beyoncé, Adele happens to be white.

But you already knew that. So what, exactly, does Adele or her music have to do with the advancement of “colored people”?

It makes one wonder who is on the NAACP’s nominating committee and what their motives might be? Maybe collecting more press attention by inviting the best-selling artist of 2011 to the ceremony as a double nominee and stirring the controversy pot while they’re at it.

Or perhaps the Adele is the behind-the-scenes key to why the ceremony, which is normally broadcast on the Fox network, found a home this year on the considerably whiter NBC. It will air five days after the GRAMMYs, and if Adele is that evening’s big winner—and we have every reason to expect her to be—she’ll be the best bait to lure viewers to the Image Awards short of raising Michael Jackson from the dead and giving him a ticket to the event.

NBC will win, but artists who are truly representative of music of color won’t. Unlike past British blue-eyed soul singers like George Michael and Lisa Stansfield, up to now, Adele hasn’t even displayed any particularly powerful affinity to American black music (it’s telling that the artists she covered on her first two albums, 19 and 21, were Bob Dylan and the Cure), and although she’s earned the respect of black performers (Jeremih, for one, has covered “Rumour Has It” live), it’s not like Adele’s singles have been big hits on R&B radio.

It’s a little absurd that she would make the Outstanding Video shortlist while Kelly Rowland, a black performer who had the best video of the year by anyone of any color, was left off for “Motivation.” Meanwhile, conspicuously absent from the list of nominees in the music categories: Rihanna, the top black female artist at the moment, whose music or whose, um, image, apparently, isn’t black enough for NAACP recognition.

So why is Adele’s? She’s a great singer, and she sings with great soul, but she’s not a “soul” singer. There is a distinction, you know, and it has less to do with being a certain color than sounding a certain color. The late Teena Marie may have been white, but she was a soul singer right down to her core. Every note that comes out of Adele’s mouth sounds like a gift from God, but there’s no mistaking the color of the wrapping paper.

While I’m not a genre purist, and I don’t support musical segregation based on race, by its very definition, the NAACP is a segregationist organization. Not in a way that screams, “Blacks only!” but in a way that is meant to promote and advance minorities, people of color (which would include 2012 Image acting nominees Sandra Oh and Sofia Vergara). There’s no getting around that aspect of the NAACP—it’s not written in stone,  just into its name.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the acronym and what it stands for (it hasn’t been okay to call blacks “colored people” in my lifetime), as well as defining the NAACP’s purpose when it comes to the Image Awards’s music categories and the need for them to begin with. It makes sense to honor minority actors in TV and film because they are largely overlooked at the Emmys and the Oscars. This year, the acting nominations for Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard, both of whom are white, feel appropriate because The Help was a film that detailed the black-white experience in the Deep South of the 1960s, and of the principal cast, they’re the two who were left out of the Oscar discussion—and nominations.

But mainstream music award shows already do a pretty good job of honoring and featuring black talent. And it’s not like Adele isn’t going to get her due everywhere else. Do we need to add the Image Awards to the list of Adele-propping organizations? Aren’t all of those GRAMMYs she’s destined to win on February 12 enough?

One could argue that the NAACP Image Awards isn’t even seriously dedicated to advancing or celebrating black music. What else would explain the absence of a category to honor rap, the premiere black musical art form in 2012? This means Adele is nominated and not Nicki Minaj, a popular rapper who is possibly the best role model on the charts today.

If image were the primary concern, and one would expect it to be with an “Image” award, Minaj’s is more than worthy of merit. She has done as much as anyone to bridge genres and color-based demographics. Her biggest hit, “Super Bass,” received some of its earliest praise from Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, and she’s collaborated with artists as varied—and white—as Eminem, Natasha Bedingfield, David Guetta, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, the Lonely Island and Madonna. Minaj also has been as much of an advocate for gay rights as Lady Gaga without being patronizing about it. Meanwhile, Adele collects accolade after accolade and basks in the glow of her spotlight.

I’m not saying that Adele doesn’t deserve everything she’s gotten. She does—with the exception of this. If she wins either of the Image awards she’s nominated for—and considering how weak the Outstanding Video category is, how could she not?—in what way will that be advancing people of color, or their music?

Sound And Vision: The Year in Review — What Was Hot and Not in Pop (and Beyond) in 2011?

No discussion of the last twelve months in music would be complete without a proper shout out to Adele, the blue-eyed, soulful Brit who ruled 2011 with one album (the multiply GRAMMY-nominated 21) and two No. 1 singles (“Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You”), so here we go.

Girl!

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what was hot and not about the rest.

HOT

1. Drake: Last year, he called his debut album Thank Me Later, so now feels like the right time to express our genuine appreciation for the Canadian rapper who balances tough and tender so perfectly. With his second album, Take Care, and two of its key cuts, in particular—the fantastic first single “Headlines” and the title track (featuring Rihanna)—he brought sexy back to rap for the first time since ladies loved (LL) Cool J.

2. Girls on film: From Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends” to Lady Gaga’s “Judas” to Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Into You” to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” it was an excellent year for women in pop videos. But it was Ke$ha in “Blow,” Kelly Rowland in “Motivation” and Rihanna in “We Found Love” that injected new energy into a decades-old art form and elevated it above and beyond promotional tool to indispensable companion piece.

3. Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams “Moanin’” on American Idol: I didn’t love the bulk of their solo performances during the 10th season of Idol, but when Reinhart and Abrams came together on the Top 8 results show for the vocalese version of Charles Mingus’ “Moanin’,” the unexpected result was the best musical moment I saw all season.

4. Diana DeGarmo on The Young and the Restless: Speaking of Idol losers, season three’s runner-up’s stint as Angelina on daytime’s No. 1 soap hasn’t been so well-received by critics or fans, but I dissent. There’s both artistry and comedic gold in DeGarmo’s portrayal of a tone-deaf “singer” and daughter of a New Jersey mob boss, and I’m looking forward to being as wowed by her Pygmalion-style makeover as I was by her Idol rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” all those years ago.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: The Year in Review — What Was Hot and Not in Pop (and Beyond) in 2011?’

Soundcheck: GRAMMY Showdown — Nicki vs. Kanye vs. Jay-Z

The 2012 GRAMMY nominations are in and it looks like another big year for hip hop, with the genre’s brightest stars earning the majority of nominations for the music industry’s biggest honor.

Leading the pack with seven nominations is Kanye West. His hit “All Of The Lights” earned nods for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Song of The Year while his joint album with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne, is up against his own My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy for Best Rap Album.  The duo is also nominated for Best Rap Performance for their song, “Otis”.

Bruno Mars and Adele are tied with Foo Fighters with six nominations each.  While it may seem a little dated by now, Mars’ debut missed last year’s cut-off.  His debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans is up for Album of The Year while his hit, “Grenade” is vying for Song Of The Year, Record of The Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.  Lil Wayne isn’t far behind with five nominations including Best Rap Performance for  “Look At Me Now” with Busta Rhymes and Chris Brown. Like West, Weezy will battle himself in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category where he’s nominated for “I’m On One” with Rick Ross, Drake, and DJ Khaled and “Motivation” his duet with Kelly Rowland.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: GRAMMY Showdown — Nicki vs. Kanye vs. Jay-Z’

Soundcheck: When Hip-Hop Goes Pop

Mash-ups are a mainstay on the hip hop scene with rappers constantly collaborating to deliver fresh material.  Even the most vicious emcee paired up with the current R&B diva has a natural charm, and we’ve come to expect Rihanna, Beyoncé or Kelly Rowland backing up big verses from big rappers.  Now, it seems that hip hop has crossed over into the pop star realm, blurring the lines between the sugary sweet stylings of pop icons like Britney, Katy and Bieber with the hard-hitting sound of the streets.

We got our biggest dose of the crossover craze when Nicki Minaj announced she would join Britney Spears on her Femme Fatale Tour this year. In a groundbreaking move, fans of pop music’s reigning queen would be shoulder to shoulder with fans of the hottest thing to hit hip hop in years.  What resulted was one hell of a party!

Now, other singers are following suit, and pairing up with some unlikely collaborators. Justin Bieber will throw a little hip hop into the holidays when he releases Under The Mistletoe, on November 1.  The fifteen-track holiday album features a version of “The Little Drummer Boy” with none other than Busta Rhymes. We can’t imagine Rhymes’ grimy, gruff voice singing about the birth of Christ, but we’re all ears.  Other guests on the album will include Usher, Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: When Hip-Hop Goes Pop’

 


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